Origin stories are at the heart of all superhero franchises. They are what kick off the entire story, the catalyst to begin a character’s journey as a hero and for many audiences they are an integral part of understanding who these heroes are. However, there are certain characters whose origin has become common knowledge that nearly everyone knows. One such character is Batman. The Batman leans into this knowledge, this is not an origin story focusing on how and why the titular character becomes the vigilante that so many people know and love.
The Batman instead begins in Batman’s second year as Gotham’s mysterious vigilante. He is still new to the vigilante game, but he is established enough to have a relationship with Jim Gordon, the bat-signal exists, and criminals know to be afraid of the shadows at night especially when they see the bat-signal in the sky. However, while The Batman is not the origin story of Bruce Wayne becoming Batman, it is an origin story of Batman becoming Gotham’s hero.
The Batman explores the evolution of Batman from violent vigilante using fear to try and fight crime, only for the crime rates to rise, to an actual hero for the city when tragedy strikes. And throughout the film Batman is forced not only to discover the truth about his family and his city, he is also faced with what effect he has truly had on Gotham.
Batman inspired Riddler, however unwittingly, and although the serial killer likely would have given into his delusions at some point the direct ties to Batman are unnerving for a man trying to stop crime. The realization when Riddler’s henchman identifies himself as “vengeance” echoing Batman’s own identifier to criminals he is fighting against rattles the young vigilante, and rightly so.
The Batman forces Bruce to see that Gotham doesn’t need a man in a mask to simply fight in the shadows, it needs a symbol, it needs hope. This evolution of Batman from angry vigilante with one goal in mind to hero, helping the people of Gotham in their hour of need, is something that has rarely been explored on screen and to begin a franchise with is extremely compelling.
THE INTRIGUING PARALLELS BETWEEN THE BATMAN AND THE MCU’S SPIDER-MAN TRILOGY
Interestingly The Batman seems to be taking a page out of the extremely successful MCU Spider-Man trilogy. Peter Parker’s origin story isn’t seen in the traditional sense. Instead the trilogy follows his evolution from a kid wanting to be an Avenger, to a teenager that wants to simply be a teenager while being Spider-Man on the side, to finally recognizing what it truly means to be a hero and the sacrifices it entails.
Spider-Man: No Way Home is the final step in Peter Parker’s journey to fully becoming Spider-Man and everything that entails. Similarly, The Batman brings audiences into an already established character’s story and the journey is not one of becoming Batman, the vigilante, but becoming Batman, Gotham City’s hero.
Batman, while tragic, is inherently hopeful. Forever fighting against crime, corruption, and the most twisted villains to try and save this city, honoring his own loss. In many ways Gotham seems to have two extremes when a horrible tragedy or trauma intervenes in one’s life. Either an individual becomes so twisted with hatred and anger that they want the rest of the world to have to go through the horrors they experienced, Riddler, or they want to fight to make sure no one else experiences what they did, Batman.
The Batman finally dives fully into Batman recognizing the city’s need for hope and that he can in fact be that symbol. The Batman is not an origin story showing the tragedy of a little boy witnessing his parent’s murders and forever being haunted by this crime. It doesn’t need to be. Every time Bruce takes off the cowl he is clearly stuck, still in that alley where everything changed. Instead The Batman shows the first step in the evolution of a hero, a hero who may never be able to save Gotham City from the corruption, crime, and insanity that is ingrained into its DNA, but will also never stop trying.
The Batman is in theaters now. Have you seen The Batman? What did you think of the film? Were you happy it wasn’t an origin story? Leave your thoughts in the comments below or on our social media and check back with The Illuminerdi for more The Batman.